Sunday, December 16, 2012

The Frustration of Being That Unschooled Person

You know, sometimes I'm overwhelmed simply by how much my priorities, ways of relating to others, and just myself in general, has changed this past year.

One big shift in priorities being the decision to no longer be as involved, online or other places, in unschooling advocacy as I have been in the past, of course. Because at this point? I just get so damn frustrated all the time with the way people look at and treat me, with their swift and wildly inaccurate assumptions, rude queries, and possibly worst of all, simply how much of who I am and how I behave is attributed only and completely to the fact I was unschooled  (am? I'm uncertain what educational labels I currently want to identify with). Especially when it's people who I think are cool and want to get to know better, people I consider part of my community, who seem to be (most likely subconsciously) doing this. It can feel remarkably hurtful to be reduced to nothing more than That Unschooled Person, whether deliberately or not.

Luckily, most of the folks I consider cool to start with really are nice folk, so that phase passes, but it's still pretty frustrating when it feels like this has to happen with most (though not all) of the more traditionally educated people I meet and get to know.

And yes, I do recognize that this happens for many different reasons to many different people. I could just as easily be That Anarchist Person or That Queer Person, I guess.  But, that doesn't really happen to me personally. It's always about unschooling.

I am just so tired of dealing with all that shit.

I was at a fundraising party for a cool art space last night, and the one unpleasant event to mar the evening was a person, upon finding out I'd never been to school, who somehow imagined it was appropriate to turn to me and ask me a math question. Everyone else at the table I was sitting at seemed as taken aback as I was! 

I got those types of very rude and condescending questions frequently while growing up, but this is the first time in several years that that's happened to me. I'm 21. You'd think that, even to the folks who justify being that rude to kids, that they'd realize that type of behavior SERIOUSLY crosses the bounds of politeness when dealing with adults.  I don't mean to imply that this type of behavior is more appropriate when it's aimed towards kids, and as an adult I certainly have a much easier time handling stuff like that. But it most definitely is more surprising and unpleasantly unexpected!

My response was simply and truthfully that I decided years ago not to answer any quiz questions people rudely asked me.

And hey, I gave them my blog address, so maybe they'll wander on over here and gain a better perspective on what unschooling is, and maybe even behave in a much more respectful manner to the next unschooler they meet.

For those wondering, no, my new level of frustration with dealing with other people's shit does not mean I regret unschooling. It does mean that I just wish people would get over it already, though.  I thought by now I'd be done with all the annoying questions and reactions, and it's slightly depressing to realize otherwise. I find myself wondering if people will still be quizzing me on my math skills when I'm 40, or if by then they'll be too busy attempting to quiz my own kids, no matter how old they are, and scolding me for being so irresponsible as to unschool them.

Believe it or not, to give a bit of a life update, I continue to be really happy.  Life is good.  But this blog keeps floating through my head, demanding some acknowledgement, and pouring out a few recent  frustrations felt, for better or for worse, like a cathartic thing to do! 

Me being happy. See, I told you I was!

For the last couple of months, I've been volunteering with what's essentially a catering kitchen, that works to support a really cool new art and community space called Le Milieu.  It's a great project and group of people, and I'm so happy to be involved!

I've also been thinking, recently, about maybe taking a university course or two. Thinking about how much easier my life would be if I could just go through the bit of bureaucracy needed to get into university, and then check "university" off in the next set of little education boxes I need to mark. No longer would I confuse any government or otherwise bureaucratic organization, seeing how I seem all "educated" and whatnot, but not having that piece of paper to prove I'm good at memorizing shit and am thus truly "educated."  It shouldn't matter, and almost always it doesn't end up mattering, but it does take longer and lead to more confusion than I like dealing with. I don't know if I will end up taking a couple of classes, but it definitely is something I'm considering.

And in the meantime, I'll continue to do what I've been doing: work in kitchens, experiment with fermenting various things, hang out with friends, read good books, spend way too much time shopping in thrift stores (though not too much money, since I am pro at this), play music, ponder moving closer to all the action (aka downtown Montreal instead of the outskirts), and generally enjoy life.  I think that's a very good plan.